Fresno

Church sues Tower Theatre for breach of contract, city eyes purchase

After taking a hit in court last month in a legal battle against Sequoia Brewing, Tower Theatre ownership is now under fire from Adventure Church as the sale of the historic theater remains in limbo.

Adventure Church filed a lawsuit in the Fresno County Superior Court Tuesday for a breach of contract in the sale of the theater.

Last month the court upheld a stay on the sale of the property, granting Sequoia Brewing a win in its attempt to halt the sale to Adventure Church.

As part of the arguments in court last month, Tower Theatre ownership said the agreement with Adventure Church to purchase the property had expired.

Adventure Church disputes that claim with the new lawsuit, forming the basis for the breach of contract complaint.

“The Tower Parties, by representing the deal with [Adventure Church] is dead, have breached the agreement,” the lawsuit reads. “[Adventure Church] unequivocally disputes the Tower Parties’ statement that the sale of the Property is dead. [Adventure Church] is ready, willing, and able to complete the purchase of the Property and intends to do so.”

The church argues that the only reason why the sale has not yet gone through is because of theater ownership’s failure to properly inform Sequoia Brewery of its right of first refusal for the sale.

In October 2020, Adventure Church agreed to purchase the Tower Theatre property for $4.815 million.

According to the lawsuit, the church learned one month later that Sequoia Brewing might have a right of first refusal to purchase the brewery premises.

Adventure church claims that when it asked Tower Theatre owner Laurence Abbate about the brewery’s right of first refusal, he “verbally informed [Adventure Church’s] representatives that there was nothing to worry about and that the issue had been addressed.” 

Sequoia Brewing took Abbate to court over the right of first refusal and eventually was granted a hold on the sale. 

With the brewery claiming that it has a right to purchase the premises that it is located on, Adventure Church said in the lawsuit that it will amend its agreement with theater ownership to allow for the brewery premises to be legally divided from the rest of the property. 

Adventure Church would then purchase the rest of the property or all of it, depending on if Sequoia Brewing chooses to purchase its premises. 

Adventure Church is seeking attorney’s fees in damages from Tower Theatre ownership. 

While the lawsuits between Adventure Church, Sequoia Brewing and the theater ownership continues in court, the City of Fresno considering purchasing the theater itself.

The Fresno City Council has a closed session item for property negotiations with Abbate for the theater. 

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.